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Assessing Student Learning

  • Online & Hybrid Teaching
  • Teaching Strategies
  • Assessment

Last modified: October 3, 2022

Assessment is one of the most important parts of instruction.

Assessment vs. Grading

Assessments are tools instructors use to gauge student learning and understanding. Not all assessments need to be graded. They can be used to guide instruction needs, as self-checks for students, and as feedback tools.

If you are grading an assessment, make sure that your grade reflects student achievement of the outcomes:

  • Consider what you score & the weight of those scores
  • As yourself: can a student fail an assessment for reasons unrelated to outcomes (like improperly formatted citations)?
  • Make sure to let students know how they are doing through timely grading and feedback

Types of Assessments

Purpose: Students demonstrate current knowledge / skills


  • Writing Sample
  • Pre-test
  • Placement Test
  • Student Interest Survey

Purpose: Check for understanding and give feedback


  • CATs (Classroom Assessment Techniques)
  • Low-stakes quizzes:
    • In both Blackboard and Google Forms, you can set up automatic grading and feedback responses
  • Peer-review
  • Oral or written feedback
  • Discussion

Purpose: Students demonstrate what they have learned


  • Project
  • Exam
  • Research paper
  • Post-test
  • Presentation
  • See Creative Assessments below

Creative Assessments

Alternatives to Proctored Exams

Proctored exams are required for certain disciplines, but if you are looking for a way to assess students without proctoring, consider these ideas:

Ask students to create something (see creative assessments above):

  • Paper/report, poster, presentation, real-world artifact, curated collection
  • Webpage, video, VoiceThread, portfolio

Have students develop exam questions and answers:

  • Open-ended / essay, short answer, mixture of many question types
  • Ask students to explain their choices for multiple choice questions

Set up your exam to minimize cheating:

  • Set a time limit
  • Set a password (for Blackboard exams)
  • Prevent back-tracking (for Blackboard exams)
  • Randomize question & answer choices
  • Make the exam open-book
  • Use a test bank

Assessing in Blackboard